The Farrell's Crash is one of Sacramento's most horrific tragedies, in which 23 people - 12 of them children - were killed and 25 injured at Farrell's ice cream parlor after an vintage jet skidded into it from Sacramento Executive Airport on Sunday, Sept. 24, 1972. At the time, it was described as the worst air-ground accident in U.S. history.
The former military jet, a Canadian F-86 Sabre, was privately owned and used for promotional tours. The jet failed to take off properly during its departure at the conclusion of a weekend air show. It ran off the end of the runway, crossed Freeport Boulevard, and crashed directly into the restaurant. Two people were killed in their car, twenty killed in the restaurant, and one person was struck by a car and killed while rushing to the scene. Many of the parlor's patrons were celebrating a birthday following a youth league football game. One family of four was killed, and another family lost nine members. The National Transportation Safety Board later concluded that the pilot had tried to lift off too quickly.
In the aftermath of the crash, Sacramento Fire Department captain Cliff Haskell convinced the Sacramento Area Fire Fighters Local 522 to allow him to begin to work establishing a specialized burn unit for the area. Cliff’s initial fundraising campaigns formed the Firefighters Burn Institute in December 1973.
Leatherby's Creamery moved to the same shopping center, close to the location of Farrell's in 1984. Eventually, the parlor closed down after the city refused to let it expand its seating from 60 patrons to 120. The City Council, voting 7-2, argued that the location was unsafe for so many patrons, since it was still in the path of the runway from which the Farrell's crash originated.
In 2002, the Sacramento police and fire departments moved into the shopping center. In 2003, a memorial to the victims was built near what once was Farrell's front door.